Genre typology of German town chronicles of the Late Medieval and Early Modern period

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In Early New High German, a realignment and enrichment of the genre system of German literature language took place. A key role belonged in this period (that is, XV and XVI centuries) to the historiography, in the first place – town chronicles. They developed, among other sources, out of the annals and other administrative writings and took their origin both in the need of upper social groups in legitimization of town structures and their general interest in history. Generally, there are two types of town chronicles, that is, official ones, which were written at the request of the town hall, and private ones. Legitimization, informing, didactic and even entertaining functions were proper to both types, but with different priority: whereas for the official chronicles, legitimization and documentation were the primary functions, for the private ones, informing and entertaining played main role. The chronicles were characterized by the syncretism and intertextuality, which means that they included charts, acts and other official documents (or their fragments) in their narrative structure. There was some difference between the authors and recipients of official chronicles, on the one hand, and these of private chronicles, on the other hand: whereas the authors of the first type were usually town scribes or highly-educated clerics, the private chronicles could also be written by ordinary citizens. Many official chronicles were initially intended for a limited circle of magistrates and not for a wide reception. For the language of town chronicles, a strong evaluative component was essential. The language of chronicles was based on the author's individual style and could vary in a wide range: from clear syntactical structures with predominance of hypotaxis and rich arsenal of stylistic means up to a plain parataxis with a simple enumeration of facts and events. Frequent use of adverbial modifiers with temporal meaning was typical. In the eyes of contemporaries, the chronicles were not exactly a genre, but rather a written history.

About the authors

A. E. Dunaev

Samara National Research University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1593-889X

Candidate of Philological Sciences, associate professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Professional Communication


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